After taking a backseat for 3 1/2 months, Pythagoras has given the Indians quite a beatdown lately.
The Indians scored three times in the top of the 10th, only to give up five runs in the bottom of the inning and lose 10-8 to the Tigers on Sunday. It was their ninth consecutive defeat.
Miguel Cabrera supplied the walkoff two-run homer after Chris Perez had already allowed three runs and blown the save.
The blown save was Perez’s third. He’s handled the tough chances exceptionally well, going 11-for-11 protecting one-run leads. However, he’s now blown a pair of three-run leads and one two-run lead.
The Indians got their lead in the 10th on back-to-back homers from Travis Hafner and Ezequiel Carrera. It was Carrera’s first homer in 214 major league at-bats. He went 7-for-12 in the series after replacing Johnny Damon in Cleveland’s outfield.
The Indians are now 50-58 on the season. They spent much of the first half of the season over .500 despite a negative run differential. As bad as they’ve played lately, they currently have the worst run differential in the entire American League at -90 (458 runs scored, 548 allowed).
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.